Thursday, May 26, 2005

 

New Evidence

I am so excited to have some debate going, and I appreciate the challenging comments at Evolution won't Evolve. So I had to do a little research (McDowell, Josh; The New Evidence) and some closer scrutiny of Genesis 1 and 2. I am not a detail person; that is my husband’s department. But we came up with enough stuff to merit a new post. So here is what we got in response to Sven and Kevin’s argument for allegory v history:
1) The more difficult comment is the one about conflicting order of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Going back to Dr. Schaeffer, there is a literary device used throughout the book, which introduces a time period, a sequence, and then quickly moves on to the main point. Keeping this in mind, chapter 2 becomes the account of man’s beginning, not an account of creation. The phrase, “these are the generations” or NIV, “this is the account of”, is how the author introduces the time frame before moving to the good stuff. In the intro to chapter 2, a little tidbit about how “the plants of the field”, cultivated growth, is yet to come because “there was no one to work the fields”. “Vegetation”, from chapter 1, is different. So the author is saying, “let me run this by ya…nature was just as it had been created, before man and woman were created from the dust.”
2) Names of the Lord were introduced as God saw fit. Elohim (Creator God) and Yahweh (the Covenant relationship God), One and the same, reveals Himself at different times in history, according to His purpose.
3) No one heard God speak the world into being. The Bible is written, supernaturally, by the Triune God. ”They” were there. This is where many conflicts arise. If we try to fit the authorship of the Bible into humanly possible terms, the resulting limitations we place on God’s sovereign Word mangle much of the meaning. Call me a fanatical Sola Scriptura geek!
4) The point of homosexual behavior relating to all this talk of Genesis is, if we were to actually take God literally at His Word, we would see how God truly opposes sodomy. Believing the Creation story as an historical account with genealogies, geographical locations, and logical sequences would ultimately lead to the literal Law. For the record, God does not hate homosexuals any more than He hates any of us…He really does hate it when we misbehave.

Comments:
Hi - I randomly came across your blog, and happen to be a Christian who believes in the facthood of evolution. I didn't want to debate any points you made at all, but I'm also a scientist, and found a like-minded Christian who has done a detailed essay that does a good job of reconciling evolution and creation. You can find it here:
http://www.theistic-evolution.com/theisticevolution.html

To myself, God using evolution as a tool to create mankind is a testament to God's infinite wisdom, not a belittlement of it.
 
Another possible way to look at Genesis 1 and 2 differences is that it is a different perspective of the same events. An example of this would be when two people witness a car accident and then write a report on it, the reports are often vastly different even thought the event was the same. This just shows a difference in perspective or a difference in emphasis.

Chris, Theistic evolution has a major problem in that it requires thousands or millions or billions of years of death and disease before the fall. That would directly contradict the account in Genesis. The garden is perfect with not pain and death and disease. Disease was a result of the fall.

I would have to go with Genesis first. Man always gets into trouble when he thinks he is smarter than scripture.
 
Wayne,

I think you're being oversimplistic if I may say so.To say 'I believe the Bible' without taking its historical setting or literary genre seriously is not taking the Bible seriously.

Genesis was not written in the nineteenth century as a sceintific account of how life began, and to treat is as such is a serious abuse of the text.

Genesis is a pre-scientific literary work that is at least 3,500 years old and is a poetic work that seems to serve a polemical purpose. Neither the Jews (of Jesus' day or otherwise) or the church (until the late 1800s) have read it as a literal scientific history, so why do we suddenly suppose that it should be? Genesis says nothing about fossils, dinosaurs, the big bang, DNA or anything else of that nature - so why do we try and force the text to be authoritative on issues it quite simply (especially when you read it 'literally') says nothing about?
 
I've only got about two cents...Should I say,"fossils, dinosaurs, Big Bang, DNA" don't mention Genesis, so why would we "try and force [them] to be authoritative on issues"? It is all a matter of priority. Yes, I am simplisticly taking God at His Word. It reads like history to me, not poetry. "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not recieve the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it." Mark 10:15
I am not saying Christians should be dumb, anti-science simpletons. Science needs to fit our reality. Eden as a reality, given a geographical location, dictates a perfect beginning. To deny that perfection is to deny what God said..."It was good"
 
Oh, I'm sorry, Sven,
Hadn't read your comment at Evolution...you said, "good" is understood in Greek terms, as perfect. Hebrew meaning would be different...
Since reading Randy Alcorn, Heaven, I would have to agree. Good, as in heaven and/or Eden, means sinless, not perfectly developed. In other words, Alcorn argues we will have things to do in heaven. Maybe unfinished tasks here will carry on to completion in heaven!! I love it!
Still, Eden was sinless...God allowed temptation (the serpent) and choice...Adam was alone but ready for perfect relationship. It really was GOOD. I'm thinking perfect here. Adam and Eve were able to completely understand each other. Having experienced marriage for twenty-five years in this fallen state, that sounds like heaven! The first sin, betrayal of that lovely union and of God, explains our tragic existence. The billion dollar question is, will we have temptation and choice in the future heaven too?
 
No there won't be temptation in heaven of this we can be sure.

I think the problem a lot of Christians have is that they have a circular view of history. Creation was good, and then it fell, but God will turn history full circle and we'll all go back to Eden-like conditions. But then what would there be to stop us sinning and falling again?

The reason we won't fall again is because history is not moving back to Genesis 1 conditions, but it is moving forward towards the consumation of creation and God making everything new. Jesus' death and resurrection now stands in the middle of history and so things can never again be like they were before.

It's better to think of history and time as being like a straight line moving from point A, through point B (the cross) and then on to point C, where death is swallowed up in victory and all things are made new. This is better than the circular view where history just goes good creation-fall- good creation (fall?) again. A circular view of time is yet another idea we get from secular Greek theology rather than from the Jewish ideas that are found in scripture.

I think heaven will be like creation now, only with absolutely every trace of sin, selfishness, pain and suffering removed. Not only from people but from nature too - the liberation from the bondage to decay that Paul speaks of in Romans 8, and every last atom of it being infused with God's light and glory. Human relationships will radiate complete love, as God had always intended them to (which is why we are given the 'Spirit of the age to come' to make this love and holiness manifest in the present - but that's a whole other discussion.)
 
I would suggest that Sven's suggestion of other issues is even more complex. For example, if you believe just what the Bible says, what version of the Bible do you accept? My church accepts only the Old Testament in the Septuagint form. The Ethiopians have extra books. The Temple texts use different words...

That arguement that I will go with God rather than science got the Catholics the Galileo mess and later got the Archbishop of Canterbury in trouble with Queen Victoria over painkillers in childbirth. The problem is the Bible isn't simple. If it were, why do we have some many Christian sects?

Now my PhD is in Chemistry but I have a undergraduate degree in Biology and took graduate level classes in paleotonology and I never heard of micro and macro evolution. Most of my teachers were Christian, btw. Several of them made the point Sven did that the Bible was not writen by Moses as history.

Where did the evil serpent come from? How about Satan in Job? Well, the traditional explaination is God planned to incarnate before the world was created and Satan rebelled before the world was founded. Hence evil was apparently somewhere. After all, a garden supposes a non-garden.

That God's plan is something greater than restoration of Eden is mentioned several times in Scripture.

I guess my rambling and confused point is there is no good scientific argument against evolution. None. There are too many examples and too much overlap from other fields. For creationism to work, God must be deceiving us and that's blasphemy.

Under the Mercy,
Kevin
 
I tried this before but lost my comments to somewhere after trying to proofread them so here goes again. Webster's New World Dictionary states "macroevolution-large-scale and log-range evolution involving the appearance of new genera, families, etc. of organisms" and "miocroevolution-small-scale hereditary changes in organisms through mutations and recombinations, resulting in the formation of slightly differing new varieties". Using these definitions, recent discoveries in biochemistry and microbiology, and the fossil record itself which contains HUGE gaps in the "evolution" of species, there seems little evidence for Darwin's theory of evolution. And it is just a theory, by the way, not a law or fact. The problem arises when challenging it's adherents, who have elevated it to religious status, decrying any criticism as some sort of blasphemy. Science is supposed to postulate and investigate new ideas, such as intelligent design, not simply discount them.
On to the debate concerning the historicity of the Genesis account. I firmly believe that God is in control. Yes, there are different "sects" of Christianity but that is more a reflection of our imperfections in interpretaion of God's Word than the scripture itself. I don't believe the Bible to be inaccurate and that, with a right relationship with God, the Truth will be revealed to us. Call that simplistic, I call it faith.
 
Sven,
"What would there be to stop us sinning and falling again?"
I'm guessing our new way of being combined with our knowledge, which we will carry with us, could possibly make our resistence to temptation perfect. Adam and Eve didn't have the knowledge. On the other hand, Satan will be done in soooooo...
Kevin,
Science and Creationism do seem to conflict and you are right, God cannot conflict with reality because He is Truth. That is why i say, science MUST fit reality. God doesn't have to fit science. Science is awesome, and it is a mistake to ignore it as Christians!
 
CWV

No. Your interpertation of Gensis contradicts science. Mine doesn't. The problem is despite the claims here evolution is a theory in the way gravity is a theory. The word is used different in science than regular speak. The so called gaps in the fossil record are fewer than claimed, genetic, atomic decay, and geological evidence support it... So God either lied in how He made the physical word, or He changed all the rules, or Gensis is an allergory to teach the point God made everything.

As to the Bible and Sola Scriptura that idea wasn't around until Luther and his followers. Even after that, the majority of the Reformers have a different interpertation than we do today. After all what was the guide before 450 (I think. I always get that wrong) when the Bible was formalized by Council. What was the standard was used to set the Bible? It's a big part of this issue. In my church, the question of Bible versus tradition is almost non-senible. And if you say Word of God, people assume you mean Christ Jesus. My point is this overly literal interpertation is a late and mostly American thing and I find that worrisome.

Have a good weekend. I'm off boy scout camping till Monday.

Kevin
 
Thanks to all for such an awesome debate!! It could go on forever...or atleast until God gives us the scoop!
By the way, I would like you to meet my husband, "Anonymous" :)
 
An excellent resource for the siginificance of Genesis to the sexuality debate is the work of John Rankin of the Theological Education Institute. (http://www.teihartford.com)

As to "God using evolution" implies evolution could exists outside God and God grabbed onto it. If you really want to take that stand, wouldn't it be better to say "evolution at its core (genetic changes over generations that introduce new creatures and capabilities) is how we understand how God worked in creation", though I would disagree with even that concept. You may think I am picking a nit but I would be in good company with Jesus.
 
CWV,

"I'm guessing our new way of being combined with our knowledge, which we will carry with us, could possibly make our resistence to temptation perfect. Adam and Eve didn't have the knowledge. On the other hand, Satan will be done in soooooo..."

I think the Bible permits us to give a much more specific answer to this question. The very fact that Christ's death and resurrection has happened and has paved the way for the new creation of all things and has finally destroyed the power of sin and death.

God's glory will fill everything and evil and sin will quite literally be swallowed up and annihilated by God's power. It will simply be impossible for there to be any corruption and darkness in the new creation. The Orthodox church (correct me if I'm wrong Kevin) speaks of the 'deification' of the whole cosmos at the end of the age, by which they mean that the whole of creation will be transfigured as Jesus was on the mountain, in such glorious light, evil and sin will simply not be able to be exist.

This is different to simply moving back to the days of Adam and Eve, where the possibility for evil and sin existed. In the new heaven and new earth, there will not even be this possibility.
 
I think Kevin's point regarding the inherent complexity of interpreting the Bible is a good one. Also, it does seem that the insistence on a completely literal interpretation of Genesis is a much more recent phenomenon. I just don't see how an allegorical interpretation changes anything, including the story of the fall of man.

I think the frustration over a metaphorical interpretation stems from a belief that when something is meant “metaphorically,” it is hardly meant at all. In Miracles, C.S. Lewis disputed this claim:

"For me the Christian doctrines which are ‘metaphorical’…mean something which is just as ‘supernatural’ or shocking after we have removed the ancient imagery as it was before."

And that is precisely the point, I believe. It does not invalidate the inerrancy of Scripture to allow for the possibility that some passages are allegorical.
 
Chad,
That leads perfectly to my next post. Thanks for going there...excellent point, backed by CS Lewis...who could dispute it? That is the question...does it matter? I hear people saying there is no conflict between evolution origins and creation, with a pretty story thrown in for meaning.
 
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